Volunteering and compassion

Why do people volunteer? Is voluntary helping others sprung from real compassion? Buddhism explains compassion like this:

“Compassion is a mind that is motivated by cherishing other living beings and wishes to release them from their suffering. Sometimes out of selfish intention we can wish for another person to be free from their suffering; this is quite common in relationships that are based principally on attachment. If our friend is ill or depressed, for example, we may wish him to recover quickly so that we can enjoy his company again; but this wish is basically self-cen- tred and is not true compassion. True compassion is necessarily based on cherishing others.

Although we already have some degree of compassion, at present it is very biased and limited. When our family and friends are suffering we easily develop compassion for them, but we find it far more difficult to feel sympathy for people we find unpleasant or for strangers. Furthermore, we feel compassion for those who are experiencing manifest pain, but not for those who are enjoying good conditions, and especially not for those who are engaging in harmful actions. If we genuinely want to realize our potential by attaining full enlightenment we need to increase the scope of our compassion until it embraces all living beings without exception, just as a loving mother feels compassion for all her children irrespective of whether they are behaving well or badly. This universal compassion is the heart of Mahayana Buddhism. Unlike our present, limited compassion, which already arises naturally from time to time, universal compassion must first be cultivated through training over a long period of time.”

What do you think? I believe that people who chose to volunteer by helping those in need do it out of compassion. I believe it is as long as the primary reason for doing it is to actually help and not to build your resume, get personal satisfaction and to stroke your ego a little bit. When you your main aim is to help, whether you gain from it or not, then you are compassionate and all those things that might benefit your life comes as a bonus. I believe in what Buddhism teaches, that one can only be truly happy when putting others happiness first.

I am certainly a typical western woman, taught to put my own needs first, to see my self as the most important person in my life and so on. That is what most of us are taught and that is certainly what modern psychiatry teaches. That way of thinking has lead me absolutely nowhere and therefore I am trying to find another way in life.

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This entry was posted in Buddhism, Malin as a volunteer, Meditation, Non profit charity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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